FOIA2000

April Fools: FoIA requests expand to all published academic GMO research

Editor’s Note: The following post was part of our 2015 April Fools prank on our readers. A lot of people had fun reading and joking about it. If you were worried about so many researchers being harassed you can now relax, but if you were a graduate student looking forward to a free weekly buffet – we’re sorry to disappoint you! Although this was a prank, FoIA requests are currently being abused to harass scientists with the goal of undermining science communicators. You can find out more about this issue here and we encourage you to sign this letter of support! By William Harvey, M.D. (Born April 1st, 1578) Previously, it was reported that 14 Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) requests had been filed seeking the correspondence of academic scientists and professors who were actively involved in outreach and public education about genetically engineered crops. The Biofortified Blog has recently

ag letter excerpt

Silencing Public Scientists

Last week I received a FOIA request that all of my emails bearing certain terms were going to be obtained and turned over to an activist group.  US-RTK, a San Francisco-based activist group, namely Gary Ruskin, wanted to know my ties to Big Ag and their PR arm. The first thing I did was pick up a phone, call Gary Ruskin, and say, “What can I tell you?” We spoke for 10 minutes, he seems like a decent guy, but what’s the deal with assuming that I’m guilty of something before even talking?  I’m not one to do things the hard way, the expensive way.  I’m glad to talk openly about anything. Those closer to the situation tell me I’m naive, and that US-RTK wants nothing more than to see me removed from the discussion on ag biotech.  In their estimation, US-RTK does not just want truth, they want words.  They

thomaslang-900

Thomas Lang makes music for Frank N. Foode™

As you know, we’re working on the music for our educational video series, Cooking with Frank N. Foode™, and we are seeking donations to help fund this important part of our new outreach project. Next, I want to introduce you to Thomas Lang, who composed the music for this series. We knew it would be a challenge to create music that fits the topics we would talk about on the show, and bring out both the science and the character of Frank N. Foode™. We were fortunate to not have to look very far to find Tom. Several years ago, Ariela and I were already acquainted with Tom while he was a composition graduate student at UW-Madison. He worked in the campus music library, and he was a very helpful tutor and a fantastic composer, we soon learned. Three years ago we attended a concert that featured his award-winning piece,

Bring Frank N. Foode to Life!

Update: Our Kickstarter campaign has Launched! Young scientists need your help to fund one-of-a-kind plush toy to further science communication about GMOs. Their Kickstarter campaign launches on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 at noon Central Time. (A PDF of the press release is available below the post) Biology Fortified, Inc. (BFI) is an independent, non-profit organization devoted to fostering science-based discussion about issues in biology, plant genetics, and agriculture. BFI’s mascot is Frank N. Foode™, your friendly neighborhood genetically modified organism (GMO). This cute corn plush has gotten his photo taken with people, plants, and in exotic places, all to help make the science of biotechnology fun and approachable. Over the years, many people have said that they want a Frank of their own! Now BFI has a chance to make this happen. Karl Haro von Mogel handcrafted the first Frank N. Foode™ plush in 2009. The goal of the “Bring

huber150

Dr. Huber turns down my generous offer

This is the beginning of the end of this particular sad tale of fear mongering and misinformation. Anti-GMO darling Dr. Don M Huber is on a tour of the Sunshine State, giving two talks in Tallahassee and one in Gainesville.  In Tallahassee he got a rock-star’s welcome with coverage on the news describing how dangerous GMO food is, and a meeting with politicians.  On my calendar November 12 had a big red circle on it for some time. Huber was in town tonight to tell his story of poison food and deadly new organisms.  I went with one of my favorite organic & sustainable extension/research faculty and had a GREAT time. I never saw Huber’s whole shtick.  It starts out about the failures of biotech and the crisis and danger from glyphosate.  A lot more on the details of his talk later.  Seriously, it was a science abortion. A significant